In the Loop: A kitty for bin Laden’s translator

August 16, 2012

What’s fluffy, has four paws and just might be the latest tool in the war against terror? A kitten!

We’ve heard of prisoners who cooperate with authorities being rewarded with cigarettes, better food, perhaps an upgrade in digs. But in Guantanamo Bay, we’re told that the military brass have added pet cats to the list of perks accorded particularly helpful detainees.

At least that’s what one detainee’s attorney thinks. Carlos Warner, a lawyer representing Muhammad Rahim,an Afghan who was a translator for Osama bin Laden , gave the Loop a brief letter from his client. That note, which was just declassified, consisted of one line: “Dear Mr. Warner — Majid Khan has a cat.”

Khan, an alleged member of al-Qaeda who has agreed to testify against one of the chief planners of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, is considered a “high-value”detainee and was held by the CIA in a secret prison for several years before his transfer to Guantanamo.

Warner says the cat-as-reward is just one example of the problems plaguing the system used to prosecute detainees. He says the military has shut down talks with detainees’ representatives. “I promise that the solution is not providing kittens to those who cooperate,” he told us. “The solution requires an open dialogue with those of us who have close relationships with the detained.”

Khan’s attorney, Wells Dixon , said he could not confirm or deny anything about his client’s conditions in confinement — including whether or not he had a cat. And, not surprisingly, a Defense Department spokesman for the facility similarly couldn’t tell the Loop much. “It could be true,” he said. “But it might not. I just can’t confirm or deny.”

In addition to sharing the news of Khan’s cat, Rahim had another thought to share with his lawyer, who, we should note, is from Akron, Ohio.

“Dear Mr. Warner!” he wrote in a separate freshly declassified letter. “Lebron James is very bad man. He should apologize to the city of Cleveland.”

Warner says Rahim’s sentiment about the NBA star who left the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat reflects his client’s tribal values, in which loyalty is paramount and “betrayals are not tolerated or forgiven, although an honest apology from an offending peer is valued.”

Hear that, LeBron?

That’s a clown quote, bro

As Benjamin Franklin once said, “Don’t trust the Internet.”

Quotes attributed to Great Americans abound out there — but they’re not always accurate. Even Rep. Ted Poe (R-Tex.) apparently fell for a widely circulated faux wittiscism.

Poe’s House Web page highlights a rotating batch of inspirational quotes. Among them is this gem from Thomas Jefferson: “The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those that are willing to work and give to those who are not.”

It’s a “quotation” favored by tea partyers and critics of welfare and the like.

It’s also not something the esteemed Jefferson ever said or wrote, and a local historian called the miscredited quote to the Loop’s attention. In fact, the saying is on a list of “spurious” sentiments frequently attributed to the third president, maintained by Jefferson’s home, Monticello.

According to Monticello, the first known mention of the quote was in a 1986 book called “Dreams Come Due” by an author using the pseudonym John Galt (the name of a character in Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged,” a key volume in the libertarian canon).

A Poe spokeswoman didn’t respond to the Loop’s request for a comment, so we can only assume that Poe and his staffers didn’t realize the quotation was fabricated.

As the Greek poet Homer once said: “D’oh!”

Asleep at switch, but not on plane

Such sad news from the Detroit area. When last we checked in on now-former congressman Thaddeus McCotter (Mich.), in May last year, he was thinking about entering the GOP presidential nominating contest.

We thought McCotter, a Loop favorite, could carry Michigan; he voted for the auto industry bailout that Michigan native Mitt Romney famously opposed.

It’s been a long, strange slide for him since then.

The five-term House member’s brief and “hard-to-explain” presidential bid went nowhere, the Detroit Free Press reported.

In May, it was revealed that McCotter had submitted more than 1,000 phony petitions for his reelection bid, and he pulled out of the race in June. In July, he abruptly resigned from Congress, issuing a mildly incoherent statement.

Four former campaign staffers were indicted last week for election fraud, but McCotter wasn’t charged — the prosecutor said McCotter was only “asleep at the switch.”

Oh, well. At least he was able to go with a congressional delegation on that swell trip to Taiwan and South Korea three months ago.

Outgoing Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio), who lost her primary in March, was also part of the delegation.

The taxpayers sure get a bang for the buck on these foreign jaunts.

With Emily Heil

The blog: washingtonpost.com/
intheloop. Twitter: @InTheLoopWP.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.
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